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April 28, 2003

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Trib Times will be on indefinite leave as we await the birth of our fourth child on April 29th, God willing.  An induction, or if necessary a C-section is planned for that date.  Please keep my wife and family in your prayers!  A short announcement will hopefully be posted early this week.

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The name Mary Magdalene conjures up a Hollywood image of a temptress, possibly a prostitute, who after hearing the message of Jesus of Nazareth repents of her sinful life.

But there's a problem with that image: It's not true.

Look at the text, say biblical scholars. Mary Magdalene is mentioned seven times in the four gospels and in none is there any indication that she engaged in prostitution, adultery or other sexual misdeed.

In the scriptures she is a woman -- tormented by seven demons -- who is healed by Jesus, becomes a follower and is the first to encounter him after his resurrection.

The main "culprit" for Mary's reputation, according to tradition, is Pope Gregory the Great.

He preached a sermon in the late sixth century that merged Mary Magdalene with two other biblical characters: a "sinful woman" in the gospel of Luke who anoints Jesus' feet with perfume and dries them with her hair, and Mary of Bethany, sister of Jesus' friend Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead.

The Vatican formally repudiated the false image of Mary Magdalene in 1969. But that has never filtered down.


The Vatican has confirmed a decision by Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler to stop prayer services that drew hundreds to worship with a woman who said she was receiving messages from the Virgin Mary.

Cardinal Keeler appointed three priests to investigate the assertions of Gianna Talone-Sullivan, who held prayer meetings weekly at St. Joseph Church in Emmitsburg before the archdiocese banned them in 2000. The visions were not supernatural nor miraculous and contained negative elements of apocalyptic prophecies, Cardinal Keeler's panel found.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a letter to Cardinal Keeler said Cardinal Keeler may officially announce that the visions were definitively not supernatural ("constat de non supernaturalitate"). Cardinal Ratzinger's commission was formed by the pope in 1542 to be an arbiter of Catholic teachings and to review assertions of visions, divine messages and miracles.

Cardinal Keeler reported the Vatican's confirmation in a letter April 2 to the Rev. William O'Brien, pastor of the Emmitsburg church. Cardinal Keeler told the priest the ruling should "relieve the doubts of the faithful regarding the alleged apparitions and any public dissemination of their message."

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

40. Self-knowledge is a true idea of one's spiritual growth, and an unbroken remembrance of one's slightest sins.

April 26, 2003



As a further sign of the importance of the Divine Mercy Sunday devotion, Pope John Paul II has authorized a plenary indulgence to Catholics who participate fully in the devotion on the Sunday after Easter.

"To ensure that the faithful live this celebration with intense piety, the supreme pontiff has ordered that Divine Mercy Sunday be enriched with the plenary indulgence," said an Aug. 3, 2002 Vatican announcement. The announcement and the conditions necessary for receiving the indulgence were published by the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican court.

An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment deserved for sins. The Vatican announcement said Pope John Paul wanted the indulgence to be available on Divine Mercy Sunday "in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful the precepts and teachings of Christian faith" regarding God's mercy and forgiveness.

With the indulgence, it said, "the faithful can receive even more fully the gift of the consolation of the Holy Spirit and, in that way, nourish a growing love for God and for their neighbors and, obtaining pardon from God, they are led in turn to quickly forgive their brothers and sisters."

In order to receive the indulgence, Catholics must fulfill the basic requirements of going to confession, receiving the Eucharist and offering prayers for the intentions of the Pope .
The special indulgence is earned when they meet the basic requirements and then, "with a soul totally detached from affection to any sin, even venial, participate in the pious practices undertaken in honor of divine mercy, or at least recite in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament ... the Our Father, the Creed and a pious invocation to the merciful Lord Jesus," such as "Merciful Jesus, I trust in you," the announcement said.

The Vatican also asked priests to inform the faithful about this salutary provision of the Church; to make special efforts to extend the mercy of Jesus by dedicating extra time to hearing confessions and on Divine Mercy Sunday to lead the recitation of the prayers.

The Divine Mercy devotion was begun in 1931 when Jesus appeared to a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska. Jesus asked her to keep all of His words in a diary and requested a Feast of Mercy to be established in the Church on the Sunday after Easter.

The Pope stated years earlier that he had fulfilled the will of Christ by instituting the Feast of Divine Mercy. John Paul II opened the cause for sainthood of Sr. Faustina when he was the Archbishop of Krakow. In 1993 he beatified Sister Faustina, and in the Jubilee year 2000 he canonized her and established Divine Mercy Sunday for the entire Universal Church. He dedicated the Basilica of Divine Mercy near Krakow on August 17, 2002.

RELATED: How to Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday

The Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy
Peace Through Divine Mercy
Divine Mercy Sunday

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

39. Contrition is the result of a fall. He who falls is crushed, and he stands in prayer without boldness but with praiseworthy audacity, as one who is shattered, steadying himself with the staff of hope and using it to drive off the hound of despair.

April 25, 2003

EDITORIAL: Mary, the first tabernacle

VIA Father Angelus M Shaughnessy Order of Friars Minor Capuchin:


We are Christians because we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and proved it by rising from the dead.

He is alive. He is well. He is with us, and if you and I so choose, He is within us.

He left no stone unturned to prove that He was God, even when that stone was His own tombstone; and that tombstone of His turned out to be the cornerstone for your faith and mine.

If He is not risen from the dead, we are all a bunch of damned fools. You are crazy for believing; and we are even more for trying to preach or to teach.

The whole Christian faith rises or falls with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Took back the body that He had been crucified with: an extended body with quantity, that could eat fish and leave bones as He did after the Resurrection; a body that Thomas the apostle could take his finger and put it into the hand of the risen Lord; a body that Thomas could put his whole hand into the side of the risen Lord.

Granted His body was glorified and "spiritualized", impassible (could not suffer any more), and agile (could move with the swiftness of thought) - - but it was still His Body that He had suffered with. We worship a "carnal" God, who took on the human condition and keeps it for all eternity. What a stumbling block for angels who have no carnality about them at all! Our God does! Any other kind of "Resurrection" would be just a hallucination or wishful thinking!

The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a greater miracle than all of His other miracles put together to prove He is God, even when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus would die a second time to await the common Resurrection of us all on the last day.

But once Jesus Christ rose from the dead, there is no more dying for Him.

His Resurrection is a greater proof for His divinity than all the fulfillment of prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures. Someone counted more than 120 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled from the Old Testament.

His Resurrection is a greater proof for His divinity than all of His teaching too. What teacher in the world would have the authenticity and the credibility to say in all truth: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"? "I am the Life and the Resurrection"? If any founder of a world religion would seek me as his follower, I would have to ask him to allow himself to be crucified until death and then rise from the dead three days later. That would help my discernment in choosing him.

Life here on this earth is short, compared to the "now" of eternity. That is why I will not throw my lot in with anybody in this world as my religious leader unless he lived for me, he died for me, he rose from the dead for me: and he loves me.

The only one in the history of the world that fills that bill is the God revealed by Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead. What a Faith!

Happy Easter!

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

38. Contrition is one thing, self-knowledge is another, humility is another.

April 24, 2003


The documentary Desperate Hours provides a rare glimpse of hope into the otherwise grim tale of the Holocaust by recounting a triumphant tale of a group of Turkish diplomats, government workers and clergymen who attempted to save Jewish lives from the hands of the Nazis.
More than just saving lives during the World War II, the Turkish government began its crusade early in the century by harboring intellectuals such as professors, scientists and artists who were barred from teaching in Germany. Although not all of them were Jewish, of the 200, two-thirds were considered Jewish by the Nazi.

The film interviewed the children of these intellectuals, most of them recalled their childhood growing up in a Turkish seaside town idyll.

Once the war broke out, Turkey, being a neutral state, provided their Jewish population an equality in their living condition. Some heroic tales along the line of Oskar Schindler were told. But aside from these heart-warming rescue stories, documentary-filmmaker Michael Berenbaum balanced his film by recounting a blotched chapter in the Turkish-Jewish history about the Struma, a ship with Jewish refugees that was left stranded in the ocean for months, waiting for the Turkish government's permission to allow its passengers to enter Turkey. The ship was finally sunk by a Russian torpedo, ending more than 700 lives.

Another amazing story happened in the Catholic church of Turkey. Archbishop Joseph Roncalli saved numerous lives by providing the Turkish Jews with protection. Later on, Roncalli went on to become Pope John XXIII. In the sixties, after thoroughly studying the Bible, he officially announced that the Jewish were not responsible for the death of Jesus. And that Jesus was a Jew himself.

The film is like a breath of fresh air that does not come along too often when the issue of the Holocaust is discussed. At the time when humanity is at its low, "Desperate Hours" provides a redemption.



Vatican reveals wartime secrets
Vatican opens archives in defence of Pius XII
Protestant witness for Pius XII

COMMENTARY:  Have you heard about that feisty nun?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

37. A holy team is love and humilty; the one exalts, and the other, supporting the exalted ones, never fails (1Cor 13:8).

April 23, 2003


Christians crowded into churches across Iraq on Sunday to celebrate Easter, the feast of new beginnings, nervous over what the new Iraq has in store for their resilient but dwindling minority in an overwhelmingly Muslim land.

A longtime bishop of Baghdad used the occasion to ask that President Bush help introduce an Iraqi constitution that treats Christians the same as Muslims.

At Baghdad's Sacred Heart Church, meanwhile, the Chaldean Catholic pastor told a congregation overflowing out the doors that re-establishing law and order was everyone's first concern.

"Jesus rose from the dead saying, 'I give you peace,'" the Rev. Basic Shamoun said. "We're in a time when we need peace."

But in the courtyard outside, parishioners spoke frankly of a deeper worry, that the U.S. promise of democracy to replace Saddam Hussein's dictatorship might lead to rule by Iraq's poor, downtrodden Shiite Muslims, a majority whose fundamentalists are prone to religious intolerance. Saddam's regime was dominated by Sunni Muslims.

"If they come to power, we'll leave the country," electrician Jacob Koda, 51, said of the Shiites.

"They're brainwashed with religious ideas. To them, Christians are bad people," said pharmacist Noel Kadu, 51.

Christians, most of them Chaldean Catholics, total 700,000 in Iraq, about 5 percent of the population. Although they have generally coexisted peacefully with their Muslim neighbors over the centuries, they also have been persecuted at times, and many have emigrated to the United States and Europe.


Iraqi Easter met with uncertainty
Weblog: Easter in Baghdad
Iraqis Pray For End To Chaos At Easter

COMMENTARY: Do Arab Christians have a future?

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

33. Most of us call ourselves sinners, and perhaps really think it; but it is indignity that tests the heart.

April 22, 2003

POPE JOHN PAUL II: "Christ's passion continues in the dramatic events, which unfortunately even in these times afflict many men and women in every part of the world.The mystery of the cross and of the resurrection however assures us that hatred and violence, blood and death do not have the last word in human affairs. Christ wins the final victory and we have to start again from him, if we want to build a future of real peace, justice, and solidarity for everyone."


Pope John Paul celebrated the 25th Easter Sunday of his pontificate with a call for peace in Iraq and an end to what he called the world's forgotten wars.

The crowd roared with approval and applauded when the pope called for peace and expressed what he called his "profound grief" over the unending violence in the Holy Land, and when he urged the world to remember forgotten wars.

The 82-year-old pontiff marked the holiest of Roman Catholic days with a global message that also focused on what he called "violence and bloodshed" in the Holy Land. He also mentioned conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in calling for a halt to what he called the tragic clash between cultures and religions.

A crowd of about 60-thousand pilgrims in Rome roared with approval at each of the Papal calls for peace. The pope also recited Easter greetings in 62 languages.

MORE: Vatican's English text of Pope's Easter message

Excerpt of homily by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Papal Household Preacher,:

The Gospel way to peace makes sense not just in the private sphere of faith, but also in the political and social sphere. The world order itself demands today that Christ's way to peace replace Augustus'. The modern conscience can no longer accept what Virgil put to his fellow citizens as their calling: "Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento," your task, Rome, is to be ruler of the peoples. Every nation has the right to govern itself.

It is clear to us today that the only way to peace is by destroying enmity, not the enemy (should we destroy half the population of the world dissatisfied with the way things are? And how do we identify the enemy where terrorism is concerned?). Someone once took Abraham Lincoln to task for being too courteous to his enemies, and reminded him that his job as President was to destroy them. Lincoln answered, "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

Will that great President of the United States find someone to take up the tremendous challenge? Enemies are destroyed with armies, but enmity with dialogue. Before putting it to the nations, the Church, led by the Pope, is setting out to apply this program in relations between religions.

ALERT!: Father Raniero Cantalamessa will be a guest speaker at the 23rd Annual Catholic Charismatic Rally in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in June.  For more information visit:

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

32. It is impossible for snow to burst into flame; still more difficult is it for humililty to dwell in an an un-orthodox person. This is something which the pious and faithful achieve, and then only when they have been purified.

April 11, 2003



VIA Stephen:


As I walked into the Chapel for morning Mass, I glanced briefly at a man sitting in a chair at the rear of the Chapel but he was a stranger to me. His clothes were casual but rumpled and he was about my age - in his early sixties. As I stepped past him, I noticed he was wearing loafers but no socks. We often have many visitors this time of year (North Florida) from Canada and many more people are coming to Mass since the Iraq War started and people are often dresses very casually. I noticed the man did not get up to go to Communion and remained seated after Mass. Father Pete was suppose to say morning Mass but he had to go see the Bishop so another Vietnamese priest - Father Viet had said Mass. I knew Father Viet very well and he is a very spiritual priest.

After Mass, I walked (with another lady) into the main Church for a few minutes before rushing off to work. I was getting ready to go when this stranger came up to me and said: “You know I attended a beautiful Midnight Christmas Mass here last year and then met with Father Pete (now pastor) who helped me a lot. There was a singer who sang the Ave Maria and she had the most beautiful voice. (I knew the singer he was talking about and she has a gifted voice). The stranger told me he needed to see Father Pete again and he needed to go to Confession. I tried to get the man to walk over to the Rectory with me but he said he did not want to bother any priests at this time of the morning. The stranger had tears in his eyes and said he just wanted to talk to somebody. In a instant, I decided to suppress my urge to rush off for work ( now going to be very late) and sit down and “listen” to the stranger.

The man had served as an Altar Boy and we smiled together as we recited the Pater Nostra in Latin ( It has probably been over forty years since I said this prayer in Latin). The stranger recited his whole life to me explaining how he had graduated from flunked out of Niagra college and then served in Vietnam. Afterwards he had become an alcoholic but did not know how it had happened. The stranger had a hard life and ended up taking care of his favorite aunt for years when she was very ill and nobody else in the extended family would help. He had come to Christmas Mass last year and was contemplating suicide until he had talked with Father Pete. After telling me his story he seemed very much at ease and asked me if I was a priest!? I said no but I know where we can find one! The stranger and I walked together to the Rectory and I introduced him to Father Viet (who was getting ready to leave to go to another Parish).

Father Viet agreed to hear his Confession after I interceded for the stranger. It was then I remembered the words: “Lord when did I see your face and when did I not stop to say hello?”. As the stranger started to leave with Father Viet, he turned and smiled and thanked me. The man was a stranger no longer - I saw the Face of Jesus smiling at me.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

31. We who wish to understand must not cease to examine ourselves; if in the perception of our heart we consider that our neighbour excels us in all thigns, then Divine mercy is near us.

April 10, 2003



Church-goers of several denominations came together in common prayer Tuesday night. Church members and ministers met at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola to pray for peace. Members of different branches of U.S.  military joined in the ecumenical prayer service held at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Catholic church Tuesday evening.

Bishop John H.  Ricard of Pensacola told the crowd of more than 150 that there is a need to "wash away all of our hatred and division."

"I am grateful so many of you are here," Ricard said.  "We want to do what we do best: Stand in solidarity with one another and pray."

During the 45-minute service, prayers were offered for those affected by war, those who have died, the families and friends of those who have died.  The group also prayed for the wounded, captive, missing and those who are serving.

"Our most potent weapon is not to be found in our marches or retoric, but in prayer," Ricard said before ministers from other churches took turns praying before the congregation.

RELATED: Episcopal chaplains bring compassion to war


The United States on Wednesday warned countries it has accused of pursuing weapons of mass destruction, including Iran, Syria and North Korea, to "draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq".

John R.  Bolton, U.S.  undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, also appealed to Syria and other countries in the Middle East to open themselves up to "new possibilities" for peace in the region.

"With respect to the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the post-conflict period, we are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest," Bolton told a news conference.

Jane's Commentary: The winds of change


U.S. Builds Proliferation Case Against Pakistan
U.N. Envoy Sees 'Real Potential' for N. Korea War
Iraq campaign alarms Beijing

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

29. He who has come to know himself has obtained an understanding of the fear of the Lord; and he who has walked by the aid of this fear, has reached the door of love.

April 9, 2003


ARCHBISHOP JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN: "This war will generate all the extremisms possible, including the Islamic one. We must be aware of this. It will provoke terrorism. And it will inflict a great wound on the dialogue between Christianity and Islam."


Arabs throughout the Mideast were dismayed by television images of American tanks rolling through the heart of Baghdad and some rushed to sign up for holy war against U.S.-led forces.

Few Arabs believed the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could hold out indefinitely against an allied onslaught, but many had expected Baghdad to put up a bloody fight.

In Cairo, Egypt, some were even more determined to join a jihad, or holy war, alongside the Iraqis. The Lawyers' Syndicate, known for organizing fighters for the war in Iraq, began filling up with volunteers shortly after the news was broadcast.

"As Arabs, we cannot see this and not move," said a man in his early 30s, who would not give his name for fear of government retribution. "We are selling ourselves for a higher cost, for God, not for Saddam."


Arab world riven by fury and despair
Iranian theology students slam war and 'offence' to holy sites
Purported bin Laden Tape Urges Revolt
Arab Nations Request U.N. Meeting on Iraq


A young woman's severed head and torso and a small boy's body were pulled Tuesday from a smoking crater carved into the earth by four U.S. bombs, so powerful they yanked orange trees from their roots. But there was no sign of the man those bombs were aimed at: Saddam Hussein.

For the second time in the war, coalition forces were wondering whether they'd gotten their man. One thing was all too clear, though: Once again, civilians had suffered.

When the broken body of the 20-year-old woman was brought out torso first, then the head her mother started crying uncontrollably, then collapsed. She was helped into a car by two male relatives.

Across the street from the crater, which lay amid the ruins of three houses, relatives squatted on the sidewalk and watched as rescue workers and volunteers, using a bulldozer and their bare hands, searched for their loved ones. Some wept; others just buried their faces in their hands.

RELATED: Human Suffering Begins in Baghdad

POPE JOHN PAUL II: "The Earth has become a cemetery with a lot of graves, a whole planet full of tombs".

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

29. He who has come to know himself by discerning each feeling of his soul has sown on earth; but those who have not thus sown cannot expect humility to blossom forth.

April 8, 2003


POPE JOHN PAUL II: "May God bring an end to the conflict quickly to make room for a new era of pardon, love and peace."


VIA Ia: This week I made a web page for a boy from our school who is living that story; I included photos of him in kindergarten, then as a championship soccer player and now as a Ranger with his Special Operations unit. His name is Charles Appleby.

Please keep him and his family in your prayers. He is in the heat of battle now. If you want to see Charles' picture and his story it is on our school web site and it's called From a Saint Mark's Family in Time of War:

VIA Brian O'Malley: Support our military personnel around the world with Catholic Care Packages from We've made arrangements with official Military Chaplain programs to ship faith-filled packages to the men and women serving our country around the world. These organizations have been given permission by our armed services to deliver packages to service men and women, and will not encounter delivery issues that you might have read or heard about in the press recently. (The issue is with delivery to individuals, versus through a sanctioned organization, such as the ones we are working with.) Purchase one or more of these packages, and help to bring Christ closer to our troops around the world. These packages contain items that have been requested of Chaplains by our service men and women, and we are doing our part in responding to their needs.

VIA Pat: Visit the Department of Defense web page below and sign in thanking the men and women of the U.S. military services for defending our freedom. The compiled list of names will be sent out to our soldiers at the end of the month. More than 13.1 million people have signed Defend America's online Thank You Note to the men and women of the U.S. military. To participate please visit

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

26. Humility is a Divine shelter to prevent us from seeing our achievements. Humility ia an abyss of self-abasement, inaccessibile to any thief. Humility is a tower of strength against the face of the enemy. No advantage shall his enemy have over him, nor shall the son, or rahter the thought, of iniquity avail to hurt him any more, but he will hew down his enemies before his face, and them that hate him shall be put to flight.

April 5, 2003



(2Ma 12:44-45)  For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

St. Therese, Little Flower of Jesus: "I am not afraid of Purgatory. I know that I am not worthy to enter that place of expiation with those holy souls. But I know, also, that the fire of Love is more sanctifying than the fire of Purgatory."


How to Explain Purgatory to Protestants
Catholic Answers: Purgatory
C.S Lewis on Purgatory
Purgatory Apologetics Index Page
Catholic Encyclopedia: Purgatory
Purgatory Art Gallery

PURGATORY PROJECT- Register Souls Today!

VIA READER: I often awaken during the early hours, tempted to arise and send you a "great thought" that seems to have come from nowhere. This one I forgot a few days ago it but came back today.

I was considering as I always do, the soul, as detached from the body, experiencing the pains of hell and purgatory, as though those pains were applied to a physical body. Obviously our soul in Purgatory or Hell, will not have a physical body till after the final resurrection.

I used to comfort myself by thinking therefore, that these pains which we are gaurranteed to experience, will not be physical, but spiritual, and thus not so much a problem, at least for Purgatory, where we will know it is but temporary.

Maybe some others have thought similar. There is always some reason that comes to our mind that punishment will not happen or will not be so bad, that allows us to give in to the temptation of sin. This apart from the hope of contrition afterwards, which is itself the sin of presumption. (on Gods Mercy).

Just imagine for a moment placing your finger into a flame of a candle. Then imagine that something has stopped you from pulling it away, and even from fainting from the pain. Then this power also stops the flame from disintegrating your finger, keeping it alive with all its nerves active. You get the picture.

Now go back to my opening premise, it is spiritual and thus different from physical pain, I was given to be reminded of something that I was told many years ago, and which perhaps some of you will have had similar experience, and which anyway all of you can check.

I had an aquaintance of a man who had lost a leg. He was suffering oneday, and I asked him why? He said my leg is itchy. Then scratch it. You don't understand it is the missing leg. He then explained that he could nearly always feel that leg as though it was still there. It still suffered physical experiences.

That in essence is what I think was my "great thought"

The "scientists" who know nothing, call this a phantom leg. I call it the leg of the soul. He had the exact same feeling of discomfort as though the leg was really there, yet it was worse, he could not scratch it to get relief.

When we die, and become detached from our body, like the leg, our soul will still have the phantom body, and it will still feel what ever pain or discomfort is applied to it. And like the phantom leg, which could not be scratched to relieve an itch, the phantom body cannot be withdrawn from the flame, or be disintegrated; and the soul needing no more to sleep, or unconsciousness, will not faint to escape.

A sobering thought isn't it. I am grateful for this revelation. I hope you are not angry with me for sharing it, and be free to share it but giving me no credit or acknowledgement.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

25. We cannot describe the power and essence of this sun, humility, but from its properties and effects we can explain its intrinsic nature.

April 4, 2003


(Psa 23:4)  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.


As a top officer in a combat helicopter squadron, Army Maj. Mike Mahony is used to emergencies. Two of his pilots were shot down last week. His unit's AH-64 Apache helicopters were damaged by Iraqi artillery. But this morning, he was handling a different kind of emergency: getting Communion to troops near the front lines.

"I'm the XO [executive officer] over at First Attack," Mahony said, referring to his squadron, as he faced a dozen soldiers in biochemical suits clutching prayer books at this camp in central Iraq. "But for today's purposes, I'm an EME."

Mahony is an emergency minister of the Eucharist, or EME, a layman trained to administer the sacrament of Communion because of a shortage of Roman Catholic chaplains. Today soldiers like him were at work in dusty U.S. military encampments in different parts of Iraq, delivering to American servicemen and women Communion wafers previously consecrated by a priest.

The ministers are part of a broad U.S. military effort to bring men of God to men at war. Hundreds of chaplains are accompanying U.S. troops in the Iraqi theater, carrying supplies for Jewish, Muslim and Christian services. Specially trained Catholic soldiers have brought thousands of consecrated hosts to the battlefield, sometimes stashing them in their camouflage vests.

"This is extremely important, much more so than in peacetime. You know the old saying, there's no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole," said Col. Bill Wolf, commander of the 11th Aviation Regiment here. When facing combat, he said, "You have to have something to believe in, that lets you get up every morning and feel you'll be okay."

MORE: Marines confront 'moral fog of war'


If any Army chaplain truly understands the anxieties of deploying soldiers’ loved ones, it’s Chaplain (Maj.) Dan Wackenhagen.

“I’m learning now — after 20 years in the Army, and having been on several deployments — that it’s harder to send someone you love then it is to actually go yourself,” Wackenhagen said.

His son, Spc. Luke Wackenhagen, is headed for Kuwait with the South Carolina National Guard. Wackenhagen’s Baumholder-based unit, Division Artillery, 1st Armored Division, also has received deployment orders.

A quiet, steady 46-year-old Protestant minister, Wackenhagen is too modest to say a son in the military gives him greater credibility in his ministry to soldiers.

He will say working through his own fear and anxiety “of saying goodbye to a son who is deploying has heightened my love for all my soldiers. It’s heightened my awareness of, and admiration for, every solider in Division Artillery and in the Army.” The organizational and counseling skills of chaplains all across the military are being tested as Americans fall in Iraq and Afghanistan and other warriors prepare to replace them. Veteran chaplains say that even those who served in the 1991 Gulf War can expect new tests of skills and faith.

RELATED: God in wartime: religious leaders face difficult task

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

22. It is a sign of the beginning of health when our thought no longer prides itself on its natural gifts. But as long as it has that stench in its nose, it cannot detect the fragrance of myrrh.

April 3, 2003


(Mat 5:9-12)  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Several dozen antiwar protesters -- including Nobel Peace Prize winners and religious leaders -- were arrested on March 26th after they violated a U.S. Park Police ban on large gatherings in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House.

A total of 68 people were arrested, police said, more than at any of the numerous other demonstrations that have taken place in downtown Washington since the war against Iraq began last week. Daily protests have drawn from a few dozen to several hundred; weekend rallies drew thousands.

Those led away in plastic handcuffs yesterday included Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church's northern Illinois district, Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. Also arrested were Mairead Corrigan Maguire, awarded the Nobel Prize in 1976 for her work to bring peace to Northern Ireland; Daniel Ellsberg, the former State and Defense Department official who leaked the Pentagon Papers to reporters during the Vietnam War; and Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Prize in 1997 for work to eradicate land mines.

The demonstration was organized by Pax Christi USA, a national peace advocacy group affiliated with the Catholic Church, and the arrests, considered an act of civil disobedience by those involved, were planned.

ONLINE: The Peace Pulpit Homilies by Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton
RELATED: Priest is single-minded in quest for world peace

VIA [email protected] (Pegeen): May this update find all of you and your families well, safe and at peace within. We have entered a new climate in the world now--a climate of war. And not only the war in Iraq, but the wars rising amongst Christians, especially within the prayer groups online. I belong to seven online groups, six of which are battling among themselves in unprecedented ways. There is a divisive force at work, doing it's best to divide and conquer the warriors of Christ, when our work is the most important it will ever be. We need to claim victory in the Name of Jesus Christ over this dark entity and return quickly with our prayers to the spiritual war we have been fighting. We need to lay down our own feelings about this war (be that supportive or against), and turn towards the Heavens, and pray that God's will, and God's will only be done. Your prayers are golden to Jesus...otherwise, why would dark forces try to stop you from praying together?!! We are at war, and Jesus needs us. Let's keep going forward, and stay the course.

Our numbers this week are:

Prayer Warriors: 9411
Prayer Groups: 52
Prayer Posts: 9429
Prayer Requests and Praise Reports: 37,108

The Divine Mercy Chaplet continues every day for all of you as you pray for others. Our mission is clear, our swords of Prayer, at the ready, our shields of Faith, secure and protective. Lets keep going, and stay the course. We do our part, the Holy Spirit does the rest.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

21. A horse when alone often imagines that it is galloping, but when it is with others it finds out how slow it is.

April 2, 2003


(Mat 10:24-25)  "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be-el'zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.


In this small hilltop city, church bells chime in melodious counterpoint to the wail of muezzins summoning Muslims to prayer at local mosques.

They are often called the "forgotten Arabs" -- the hundreds of thousands of Christians who live across the Middle East, from Egypt to Iraq, many in ancient communities that date to the time of Jesus and earlier. In language, dress, and custom, Christians are all but indistinguishable from their Muslim neighbors.

But many Christians now fear they may be targeted as part of a backlash against the US-led war to topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein, a campaign that radical Islamic preachers in mosques and rabble-rousers in the streets vociferously seek to portray as an anti-Muslim crusade led by a fundamentalist American president. The idea that the war in Iraq represents an epic clash of civilizations -- Christian West vs. the Islamic world -- enjoys huge currency among Muslims in this tinderbox region.

That is alarming to Toufiq Mitri Salaitha, patriarch of a large Orthodox Christian clan in Madaba.

"For the militants, Christians make an easy target -- even though nearly no Christians support the cruel United States attack on Iraq," he said, sipping tea in his living room on a narrow side street a few blocks from the clamorous souk, or market. "Yet we are identified as `Western.' And that means difficulty and even danger in these emotional times."

Meanwhile, educated Christians and Muslims in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are seeking to make common cause. On Wednesday, hundreds of Jordanians turned out at the Church of the Virgin Mary to peacefully protest the war in Iraq with a candlelight vigil.

"Even in fearful times, we should not be afraid," said Samia Salfiti, an Anglican.

"Muslims know that the pope and other Christian churches in the West have taken a strong stand against the war. Our outrage against the deaths of innocent people in Iraq comes from our soul, from our common humanity. It has nothing to do with whether this person was baptized in a church or that person prays in a mosque. If anything, this war has made my feeling of being Arab more powerful."

SEE ALSO: Grief Becomes Daily Part of Baghdad Life


VIA David Hughes: My four year old grand son Michael, who lives at Fort Riley Infantry base -- called to his mother last night: "is daddy coming home". She yelled back from her bedroom: "yes - honey -- now go to bed." The little boy called back: "no -- is he coming home tonight - and getting into bed with you - tonight." -- She said: "yes, Michael - daddy is coming home tonight."

The little boy, who just turned four on March 25th, was obviously afraid that perhaps his dad, like half of his dads friend's: "are going to be coming home --- soon."

Trust me -- my grandson understood what HE meant -- when he asked my daughter if "daddy was coming home."

MORE: When War News Can Be Too Much for Children

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

20. He who has humbled himself within will not be cheated by his lips; for what is not in the treasury cannot be brought out through this door.

April 1, 2003



Praying for victims of war in Iraq and elsewhere, Pope John Paul II said Sunday that armed conflict threatens humanity's hope for a better future.

"Distressing armed clashes endanger humanity's hope for a better future," the pontiff told pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly appearance from his studio window.

Praying to the Virgin Mary for the victims of conflict, he said: "Let's invoke with grief-stricken and confident insistence her intercession for peace in Iraq and in every other region of the world."

On Saturday, the pontiff urged the faithful not to allow the Iraq conflict to stir up hatred between Christians and Muslims, saying that would transform the war into a "religious catastrophe."

RELATED: The Pope Gives the 14th Encyclical and Prays for Peace


Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iran must stop its drive for weapons of mass destruction and Syria must end its support for terrorism.

In a strongly worded speech to a pro-Israel lobby, Powell bracketed Iran and Syria with Iraq as promoters of terrorism and suggested they faced grave consequences. His tough words matched those last week of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and served to signal unity within the Bush administration on the anti-terror front.

Both Iran and Syria have shown no inclination to bend to the Bush administration's growing rhetorical campaign against them. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said Sunday that "Syria has a national interest in the expulsion of the invaders from Iraq."

RELATED: Iranians take to street for first anti-war demo
SEE ALSO: Russian President Vladimir Putin: Iraq war worst crisis since Cold War

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa: If the United States took the war across Iraq's borders to Syria or Iran, it would result in a "mess." "It would sow havoc all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean, it would reach borders that you can't imagine." he said.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 25- "On the destroyer of the pasions, most sublime humility"

19. It is one thing to be humble, another to strive for humilty, and another to praise the humble. The first belongs to the perfect, the second to the truly obedient, and the third to all the faithful.

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